London, England (CNN) -- Where can you find Daniel Day-Lewis, Sophia Loren, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Marion Cotillard, Kate Hudson and Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas all having a blast singing and dancing together?
In Rob Marshall's new Italy-drenched musical, "Nine," opening in theatres December 18, with what has to be the most star-studded cast ever to grace a musical.
The new singing-and-dancing extravaganza by the director of the Academy Award-winning "Chicago" is the story of Italian film director Guido Contini, played by Day-Lewis. Contini is in the throes of a mid-life crisis that has stifled his creative juices but ramped up his romantic entanglements in early 1960s Venice.
Sophia Loren plays Day-Lewis' mother; Marion Cotillard his wife and the other stars his various love interests. The story is based on an adaptation of Federico Fellini's autobiographical film, "8½."
Asked how he persuaded so many super-star leading ladies to play supporting parts in his new film, Marshall said he was "astonished" that they all wanted to take part.
"I think it's because a musical is special, as it rarely happens," the director told CNN. "And when it does, people who have a natural skill want to do it."
"We all knew how special it was."
Marshall said that occasionally during filming, he had to "pinch" himself "because there's Sophia Loren, Judi Dench and Daniel Day-Lewis, the greatest actors in the world. I was overwhelmed each day working with them. That never really went away."
Asked how and why he came to cast Day-Lewis as the leading man in a musical, Marshall said of the actor: "He likes challenges, and he wants to transform himself into parts and become people."
Marshall said singing and dancing came naturally to Day-Lewis, much more known for dark, dramatic roles. "We had a short amount of time once we cast him, but he just went to work and kept working on the voice, the movement."
"He is just a director's dream," Marshall said about the award-winning actor, "because not only is he such a consummate artist and worker, but he's also wonderful to work with."